Realistic to hope for McLaren step up, says Alonso
By Alan Baldwin
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso has piled more pressure on struggling McLaren and partners Honda by saying it is 'realistic' to think they can catch up with Formula One champions Mercedes next season.
The Spaniard told reporters at the U.S. Grand Prix, where he was ninth fastest in a wet first practice on Friday, that McLaren needed to find another two and a half seconds of pace to match Mercedes.
"If we improve two and a half seconds, we will win next year," he said.
"It's realistic, but the thing is we need to work very hard with very high discipline all winter, all united, because in this new Formula One everything is a package, it's not anymore an engine, aerodynamic, mechanical side," he added.
"It's all combined that makes the perfect car. We are working on that, we understood that, and we are trying our best. It's a very big gap that we have to close."
McLaren, the second most successful team in the sport's history, are enduring their worst season this year and are ninth of 10 teams.
Alonso, the double world champion who joined from Ferrari at the end of last season, has suffered frequent car breakdowns and grid penalties due to the team far exceeding their engine allocation.
The Spaniard again has Honda's latest engine upgrade, which he first used in Russia two weeks ago and said he expects to see a step up in Austin on Sunday. Continued...